Aisha Kingongo
Aisha Kingongo, a MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program student at the University of Southern California Berkeley, hails from Uganda. (Jan Flatley-Feldman – The Daily Californian)

The world comes to McGill

McGill is known for having one of the most international student bodies in North America, drawing young scholars from around the world not only because of a global reputation for excellence, but because of this very diversity on campus.

And yet competition among its peer institutions for top-tier undergraduate and graduate students has become increasingly intense, spreading across borders as it too goes global. Attracting those international students has been made a little easier thanks to donors who share McGill’s vision of providing educational opportunities for the world by bringing the world to the University.

One of the most recent examples is a transformative $27-million gift that saw McGill become a member of the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, part of an international education initiative that focuses on young people from Africa. Over the next 10 years, McGill will offer 91 undergraduate and graduate scholarships under the program. Because of the University’s unique setting in a francophone province, up to 45% of the scholars will come from francophone African countries.

The aim of the program is to create highly qualified future leaders who can return to Africa and foster economic development. During their time at McGill, students will also participate in an internship program to maintain links with their communities and build career opportunities in the region to advance social and economic progress once they have graduated.

“We are pleased that this initiative will lead to an increase of the African diaspora at McGill, exposing not only the bright African students but also the university as a whole to a broader cultural spectrum,” says Christelle Dossa, President of the McGill African Student Society.

Asia is another important source of top students for McGill, with China ranked only behind the U.S. and France for the number of students enrolled at the University. McGill not only has strong partnerships and research collaborations with China, but a proud history of prominent alumni and donors in Hong Kong and mainland China who have offered a helping hand to the students who follow them.

The Charles C.P. Hui Science Scholarships, for instance, were established by a donation from Charles C.P. Hui, BSc’68, and support students entering the Faculty of Science, in particular those from Hong Kong. The prestigious Clifford C.F. Wong Fellowship in Architecture, as well, provides students from China and elsewhere who are entering the graduate program in Architecture with substantial assistance.

In the Faculty of Law, a summer exchange program with Shantou University has been funded by the La Ka Shing Foundation and has challenged students’ preconceptions and perspectives as they compare the legal systems and traditions in China and Canada, with McGill students spending two weeks paired with law students in Shantou and Chinese students coming the following year to study in Montreal. Participants gain invaluable experience for practising law in a globalized economy.

And while quite a number of McGill students have been known to head to Oxford with a Rhodes Scholarship, many British students are also drawn across the pond to study here. Those who do come can benefit from the support provided by the UK Trust Entrance Scholarship funded by donors in the UK through the McGill University Trust.

“I feel like I’m learning so much more outside of the classroom in terms of understanding other people and getting to know different cultures and beliefs,” says 2011 recipient Michael Maw from Buckinghamshire. “I have met people from all continents in the world.”